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In Friday sermons, Indonesian religious leaders call for handwashing with soap

© UNICEF/2010/Purnomo
A student in Solo, Central Java uses running water and soap in school where she learns good hygiene habits.

By Lely Djuhari

JAKARTA, 15 October, 2010 — Religious leaders in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, brought a special message to the faithful attending Friday prayers this week, adding their contribution to efforts that saw more than 14,000 children lathering up their hands in schools, stadium and parks. Government officials and businesses vowed that the third annual handwashing event launched in October will last for “more than just a day”.

Indonesians are among at least 200 million children, parents, teachers, celebrities and citizens in over 80 countries who voiced their commitment to Global Handwashing Day, supported by UNICEF and other partners.  Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and affordable health interventions known.

The country's main celebration was centred in the city of Bandung where Health Minister Endang Sedyaningsih and thousands of children demonstrated how using running water and frothy soap suds can help reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent. In a nation where clinical diarrhoea affects nearly 10 per cent of the population, and where nearly 15 per cent of children under five years old are believed to suffer regular bouts.


This year, innovations include working with the Indonesian Ulemas' Council to provide key messages through brochures and on their website about the importance of handwashing, and encouraging clerics to use them on the Islamic holy day on Friday when men gather for noon prayers in mosques. Christian, Buddhists, Hindu and other religious leaders in Indonesia will later take part in similar events this year.


© UNICEF/2010
The global handwashing mascots stand ready to promote this year's event with the theme: more than just a day.

Across the vast archipelago, children engaged their peers through drama, songs, drawing competitions to discuss good hygiene behavior and proper nutrition needed for children to survive and thrive.

The Ministry of Health with UNICEF’s support developed a national policy based on Community-Led Total Sanitation concept which includes handwashing with soap as well as defecation-free villages and healthy latrines, household water treatment, solid waste management and waste water management.

Nearly 15 percent of Indonesian children are believed to suffer from regular boughts of diarrhoea, easily preventable through handwashing with soap.

UNICEF is also helping the government to develop a National Urban Sanitation Programme aiming to develop municipalities through better planning, designing, managing and prioritizing of sanitation issues.

Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, UN agencies, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies and individuals worldwide and is an initiative of the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap. Each year, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections, which are easily preventable through washing hands with soap are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children in the world under the age of five.

For more information:

Attention broadcasters:  Handwashing b-roll and PSAs are available at weshare.





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